Declan Rice ‘not normal’ as Granit Xhaka ‘BETTER’ at being ‘technically proficient’

Editor F365
Declan Rice and Granit Xhaka
Declan Rice and Granit Xhaka

Declan Rice is not as good as Granit Xhaka, apparently. Seems odd but it’s the interlull so people are writing some right sh*t.


Rice, Rice maybe
The interlull brings challenges to those of us who write football content for our pennies but what kind of a weird flex is this from The Sun?

Arsenal star Declan Rice already justifying £105m transfer fee… but shock stats show man he replaced doing even BETTER

Buying Rice was clearly one of the better transfer decisions of the summer and yet Anthony Chapman (if he exists) came to work on Sunday and decided to compare Rice unfavourably with Granit Xhaka, presumably for sh*ts, giggles and clicks.

So in what ways has Xhaka done BETTER at Bayer Leverkusen than a player who has absolutely been a success at Arsenal? What are these ‘shock stats’ as REVEALED by The Sun?

Despite playing less total minutes than Rice, the Swiss ace is actually present for MORE minutes per game on average.

Shock stats show Xhaka plays around 88 minutes per game for Leverkusen, with Rice on the pitch for an average of 85 minutes.

So Xhaka has done BETTER than Rice because the latter had to go off at half-time of the 2-2 draw with Tottenham because of a back spasm. We presume he is suitably embarrassed.

And Xhaka certainly dominates when it comes to win rate, boasting an incredible 91 per cent to Rice’s 67 per cent.

Well that’s because Bayer Leverkusen are top of the Bundesliga and have won 11 of their 12 games. If that’s the key metric then Leverkusen striker Victor Boniface has been BETTER than Manchester City’s Erling Haaland despite scoring roughly half the number of goals.

He is more technically proficient too, clocking up 1,097 passes to Rice’s 721.

Because that is exactly how ‘technical proficiency’ is measured, making Lewis Dunk the best in all of Europe. Technically speaking.

To be fair, there are some genuine statistics that suggest Xhaka is having a slightly BETTER season…

Incredibly, Xhaka has an accuracy rating of 93 per cent – one better than Rice.

He has also won possession 72 times to Rice’s 60, and has created three more chances than the Arsenal man’s nine.

Xhaka’s final victory comes in fouls won, landing 12 for his side compared to Rice’s six.

But then there’s the fact – marked by a ‘however’ in The Sun – that Xhaka has made more fouls, thus picking up more bookings, than Rice. Then there’s the small matter of Rice making more tackles and interceptions, which seems pretty important for a defensive midfielder. And then the teeny-tiny detail of Rice scoring two Premier League goals and claiming one assist to Xhaka’s absolute zero in both columns.

It’s almost like they are both having excellent seasons.

If your opening ‘shock stat’ is that Xhaka has played more minutes per game than the once-injured Rice then your idea is a dud and stick to writing about how ‘putting beauty Paige Spiranac has reacted in delight’ to news of Tiger Woods’ return to golf. Be sure to include 23 pictures of Spirinac and one of Woods.


We’re far from the resurface now
Declan Rice, that half-time substitution against Tottenham aside, has come across incredibly well since his move to Arsenal. And it was particularly interesting to hear his thoughts on his price tag:

“You’re a human being bought for £105m, it doesn’t feel very normal, when the transfer was going through I was very nervous because of the price tag.”

He is absolutely right; the idea that any human being can be bought for £105m is not normal. It’s actually ludicrous.

But put this through the Mirror click machine (no word on whether that is being made redundant) and you get this:

Mikel Arteta’s advice to Declan Rice after star admitted he felt “not normal” at Arsenal

So many things to unpick here but mainly, Rice did not admit he felt ‘not normal’ and Arteta has not reacted since he made this ‘admission’.

So what is the ‘story’?

Mikel Arteta’s early advice for Arsenal ace Declan Rice has resurfaced after the midfielder addressed his whopping £105million price-tag and conceded it adds to the pressure.

It’s ‘resurfaced’ because you Googled it, fella.


This means more
Obviously there is only one story in town if you are a Liverpool FC writer for the Liverpool Echo:

‘Man City full list of FFP charges and their possible punishment as Liverpool await verdict’

‘Man City stripped of Premier League titles? FFP punishments analysed as Liverpool await verdict’

‘Premier League penalty all but confirmed if Man City are found guilty as Liverpool watch on’

‘Truth about size of Man City’s 115 charges as Everton and Liverpool watch on’

There they are…just watching on and awaiting a verdict that is probably years away. They should probably get on with something else in the meantime – maybe preparing for a fixture they lost 4-1 last season.


The plane is full
MailOnline have gone big with their England squad guide:

Who’s on the plane, who’s staying home, and who’s nervous? Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount and Reece James among the stars sweating on their places in England’s 23-man Euro 2024 squad

They then run through ‘which players will be on the plane, who will be staying at home and who will be nervous about whether they will be selected’.

For the sake of even just the pretence of jeopardy, maybe don’t name 21 players (including just two goalkeepers, so that’s one extra place taken) as being ‘on the plane’. Especially when one of them is Levi Colwill, of one England friendly start fame.

Sweet that they think Jordan Henderson is ‘nervous’ though.


Looking on the Bright(on) side

The Athletic get a lot of things right. But making the tragic death of a footballer in Albania into a story about Brighton’s recruitment policy is absolutely not one of them.